Wondering how to save money on your Thanksgiving dinner this year? It’s certainly a bit more challenging due to inflation, but grocery stores are still offering competitive deals on everything for your big feast.
I shared some tips with reporter Derek James on WCCO today, and was thrilled to be able to film at one of my favorite grocery stores, Mike’s Discount Foods! (Don’t forget you can save 10% there every Tuesday!)
I shared a few of my tips there but have many more to share.
Here are tips for saving money on everything from your turkey to sides to dessert, all organized by grocery store department!
Do your planning early! Look at grocery store sales and ads now, and compare prices. Determine how many people you’re feeding, and if it can be a potluck to save everyone money. Plus plan how you’ll use your leftovers (I LOVE leftovers!) – and purchase ingredients with leftovers in mind. For example, do you know you’ll be making a lot of turkey pot pie with your leftover turkey? Be sure to get ingredients for that such as pie crusts and frozen mixed veggies.
Buy the turkey and fixings now. Stores have competitive sales now on everything you need, and you’ll beat the crowds – and be sure stores haven’t run out of what you need. Plus, frozen is cheaper than fresh so get that turkey now, and thaw it Thanksgiving week.
Get the right sized turkey. Whole turkey or just turkey breast? Depending on size, a whole turkey can give you a lot more bang for your buck. A 20 lb turkey is probably 10 pounds of white meat, plus dark meat and bones. You can use the bones for chicken stock. And even if you don’t like dark meat, you can still use it for recipes like turkey pot pie, turkey salad, and soup. But if you’re feeding a smaller number of people and don’t intend to use the whole turkey, a turkey breast CAN be your best bet. Just be sure to look for sales.
Buy a smaller turkey and load up more on appetizers and side dishes.
Consider alternatives to turkey. For example, consider making a ham or even a whole chicken instead of a turkey. Whole chickens are often less per pound than turkeys.
Use in-season produce. For example, sweet potatoes, squash and brussels sprouts are in-season right now, but green beans aren’t. (I have a list of seasonal produce by month here.)
Avoid pre-cut produce and ready-to-heat meals and sides, which can be up to 40% more than whole produce, and are usually some of the most marked-up items in the grocery store.
Avoid trends. Charcuterie boards are super fun, but having to buy multiple ingredients means buying more groceries, not to mention more time spent prepping in the kitchen. Or make a simple charcuterie board yourself with ingredients you already have like cheese, crackers and fruit.
Use what you have. Thanksgiving is a great time to do cabinet and pantry cleanout of your home. Consider making carrot casserole or creamed corn.
Shop for generic and store brands. Generic and store brands are usually cheaper than name brand – 20 – 25% cheaper. Yet it is usually the same quality and taste. (This isn’t always the case though. Some generic items that are usually not better include coffee, cheese and chocolate. But most items like cereals and baking ingredients and snacks are.)
Use the frozen section! Frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh, and last longer. Frozen bread dough is also a great way to stretch your dollars – think cinnamon rolls for breakfast, dinner rolls (like cloverleaf rolls), and if you have enough, calzones or pizza dough the next day.
Bake your own goodies! The bakery is a great place to drool, but to also overspend. Anticipate that your nose will tempt you with fresh-baked pies and desserts, but you can make these at home for way cheaper, so try to avoid the bakery for these ready to “gobble” treats.
Use store rewards programs for added savings – and often “points” for your next grocery shopping trip. For example, I use Target RedCard and Target Circle for 5% off plus extra savings. I also love both Hy-Vee and Cub Rewards for savings at select gas stations. Every store has their own exclusive ways to save.
Combine in-store savings and apps with rewards apps like ibotta for cash back, or Fetch Rewards to get fun stuff like Amazon gift cards. You just take a picture of your receipt and upload it. It’s a great way to get even more on top of in-store savings!
What tips would you add to this list? Comment below!
Also be sure to check out my Printable Thanksgiving Activity Placemats, available in my Etsy store!